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The NY Con Con Has Been Defeated. But What Have We Gained?

Opinon piece by Harmon L. Walker,  Political Action Chairperson, Three Village Schools Retiree Association

The great irony of the campaign, from a union perspective, to defeat the calling of a Constitutional Convention was to witness the disparate groups within the state and nation, with their very divergent interests, attempting to cooperate to stop change and reform, whether it could be a good idea or a bad one!  All the groups whose members work diligently to stop this Constitutional Convention did not do it because they had a vision of what they wanted but rather to protect what they have gained and might possibly lose if such a convention actually met. There was real fear and suspicion that our elected legislators would follow the wishes of their moneyed donors, rather than doing what would be for the benefit of all the citizens of the state. There was also a widespread belief that all special interest groups and politicians have used lies and their alternative facts, to gain creditability for their group over other competing groups and the people they are sworn to serve. We see this competition between differing ideological camps in our nightly news reports, no matter what channel is your favorite purveyor of “truth”. Government of, by, and for the people in America, is becoming more of a myth. At all levels of government, the American body politic senses that our governmental processes, and our legislators, continued to show an inability to solve problems within our democratic system, by compromise and cooperation. No meaningful change or reform can take root and grow in such a poisonous political atmosphere.  

To win elections, legislators choose their electorate, suppress who may vote and when, and then on the campaign stump, make promises that they have no intention of keeping when elected. Honesty, authenticity, and love of country, over party or personal self-interests, should be the values that our politicians live and legislate by. The use of distractions, deceit and pandering for personal advantage belong to a foreign political order… not the American one. Party jingoism, mainly on the right, popularizes the adoption of failed policies and the cutting of beneficial governmental programs, which neither is reasonable nor desirable. The now-proposed tax cuts being discussed in our national debate illustrate that this is indeed what is happening. “If the rich get a greater tax break, is will help to create jobs in the US.” This canard has been proven false, yet it lives on as a devout myth of our present administration and their enablers. The reality is that Congress has shown no courage to confront the donor class in America by limiting their access to the political process and to politicians, by changing our campaign finance laws. This fact, sadly, is too self-evident.  

If there is to be a glimmer for reform and change, it must start at the local level to bring honest people into the process who will not prevaricate on any issues or proposed policies. When they don’t deliver... unelect them! This certainly means that more people, in the electorate, have to view elections as a “must do” activity. A political system that has become paralyzed by confusion and indifference has sown the seeds of its own atrophy. We need visionary political leadership, reflecting all persuasions of thought and culture, to create new laws and processes in our state and country that will make government work for all. This might mean we have to place limits on legislator’s outside income and sources. We need to create a reform process concerning our state needs, which can be brought before the people of the state in a less costly way for them to ratify, every year, not every 20 years.  This means restructuring the State Senate and Legislative Committees on Constitutional reform, in a bipartisan way, to meet and report to the people on a regular basis what change they are considering and why, allowing also for active public input. This will help build consensus around what is needed and proposed, as compromised solutions. We need a commitment from both parties to put an end to party re-districting (gerrymandering) and make real efforts to bring more potential voters into the process by changing the times and places where balloting can take place. There are interesting things happening in Oregon and Washington states in their “ballot by mail” system. This system could be more secure than the “hackable” machines we have in use around the country, because every ballot that is returned can be re-counted! 

 For America, to fulfill its promise to all Americans…we, as citizens, cannot shun the duty of changing what is not working for all. Top down governing has been shown as ineffective. To have a well-functioning government, to be better, effective and honest...WE the People are still needed to guide our ship of state, by more active involvement and participation.

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